Consulting The Book of Fortune

In which we dive into the magical and mystical Book of Fortune from 1936 for answers to important questions and look at past eerie predictions! Ask away, oh curious one…

“For you, yourself, are the Master of your Destiny.”

The Complete Book of Fortune (Associated Newspapers Ltd) | 1936

So ends the disclaimer in the front of one of my best-loved books, and the most well-thumbed over the years. This beauty documents so many different methods of fortune-telling, including Napoleon’s Book of Fate (found in an ancient Egyptian tomb during a military expedition in 1801 – read more), the Arabian Squares of Fortune (have a go below), How to Read Tea-Leaves, and the Science of Phrenology (interpreting bumps on the head). Maybe it’s the beautiful vintage cover, the old-fashioned wording, or the tattered pages, but there does seem to be something genuinely magic about it.

The book was hidden away in a forgotten corner of the Toll House Bookshop, and I picked it up because an incident at school awoke a little occultish imp in me. A group of us were wondering how to get out of a biology test the next day. The obvious method we chose was voodoo! We made a (very rough) paper doll of the biology teacher, wrote her name on it, and ceremoniously snipped her head off with a pair of scissors. Sure enough, next day the teacher didn’t show and her test was postponed. Apparently, of all things, she had a sore throat.*

A few years later, I unpacked the book at uni. My flatmates and I tried out a few methods of divining the future, and fixed on using a quick playing-cards method, which quickly became as scary as the voodoo attempt. One day, the cards told us that a dark-haired boy we knew would have an accident involving travel. We cautioned my friend’s boyfriend to be careful, but it was our flatmate who walked through the door later that day, all scraped up; he’d had a near miss with a car and fallen off his bike.

The Arabian Squares is the quickest of all the divining methods, so here they are in case you want to have a go – one for love, and the other for fortune.


  • Choose your square depending on a question you need an answer to – love or fortune.
  • Close your eyes and concentrate really, really hard on the question.
  • Letting your question guide you, place your finger/pen-point/mouse pointer down on the grid.
  • Write down the letter you have landed on.
  • Count 8 squares along (left to right) and write down the next letter. And keep going.
  • When you get to the bottom of the grid and run out of letters, continue the count on the top line (and the first letter you find will be the beginning of your sentence).
  • Stop when you get to the original letter you chose, and you will have a complete sentence – the completely accurate and true answer to your question 😉

Feel free to share your result (Find out what I got below). But always remember – You, yourself, are the Master of your Destiny

MY QUESTION: I decided to pick a writing-related question, and asked whether my latest finished book – 11:42pm – would finally get picked up by a publisher (it’s currently sitting on the desk of someone important, waiting patiently to be read).

And the Arabian Squares reply? – “Do not worry, all will come right at last.”

So, yeah… watch this space 😀

*Miss Hales got better, in case you were worried about her fate. We had the biology test the next day and never ever tried voodoo again.

All photos by author

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